STDs Expert Forum
Please help me to understand this
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Please help me to understand this

Ten years ago I had a series of abnormal pap tests.  An hpv test confirmed high risk hpv.Eventually my paps got back to normal and have been since then.Few years later, I did the digene hpv test twice-both times negative.  Since then, I haven't had a relationship until about 2 1/2 yrs ago.  During it, a yr ago, I did the test again.It was a "group" test,pcr method, testing for three groups-high,low and undermined risk-49 subtypes in all.  My results-all negative. My partner and I did not always use a condom.I am positive he never cheated.

In the meantime since then, my relationship went bad and ended, I have not had any partners since then.  Very recently, I went to do the hpv test again (pcr method) and a pap.  My pap-normal, hpv--positive from the "undetermined" group.  I'm very upset over this for many reasons, the first being that I feel like I am reliving a nightmare.  Secondly, I have me a wonderful man in the meantime, and it is leading towards a serious relationship.  And now I just found this out and am devasted that I could lose him because of this.  I don't even know how to go about tell him this without scaring him away.??

Is it likely that my hpv infection from ten years ago has reactivated?  Are there any chances of a false positive result with the pcr method, or is that wishful thinking?  Is it possible that I got reinfected from my last partner, even though my test was negative while still in the relationship?

I don't know how to deal with this anymore and it's taking a toll on me emotionally.  I've read so much conflicting information on the internet, and I've been told so much conflicting information by various doctors I've spoken to.  I've read many posts and answers in this forum, and have noticed that the common reassurance is that most hpv infections clear up within a year (or something like that).  In my situation, nothing seems to add up.  Can you please shed some light on this for me.  Otherwise I have absolutely no health problems.
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I hope I can help sort this out.  There are still a number of important questions regarding the natural history of HPV infection to be sorted out but I think there are reasonable answers to many as well. Obviously whatever I say is guesswork, albeit a well educated one since we do not have the luxury of having extensively studied you and your situation. Before we get to your situation however, please also commit to searching this web site for other threads related to HPV.  In them you will find that both of us who answer on this site have repeatedly said that HPV infections are close to omniscient among sexually active persons and that as such, we need to manage them and be aware of their implications rather than letting them manage (and reap havoc) with our lives.  Having HPV is simply something that happens so regularly that there is no blame to be given or room for concern within relationships.  Rather it is something that you need to incorporate into your own health maintenance plans with regular pap smears, etc- something that it sounds like you do.

As you know, most HPV infections are controlled by person's own defense systems and resolve without treatment and without progression to abnormal pap smears or cancer.  The is little evidence that HPV infections in women pose a meaningful health risk to their partners, nor does it imply anything about the person who has (or more accurately, becomes aware of) her HPV infection(s).

On to your circumstances.  My guess is that your body cleared your earlier HPV infection.   At the same time, PCR tests are far more sensitive than the DIgene test and so the infection recently detected could well have been there all along, either being present in such low levels as to not be detected or being a type that the Digene test did not include but that PCR picked up.  Either way, this is something that you can have an adult conversation about with your new partner.  It is likely on a statistical basis that he is or has been already HPV infected.  it is unlikely that he will develop visible genital warts when you commence sexual relations (I take it you have not yet), nor consequences from exposure to your HPV infection.

Finally, you may wish to talk this through with someone on one of the high quality hot lines such as the one run by the American Social health Association (ASHA).  You can get much information and find out how to reach them from their website.

Hope this helps.  EWH
Thank you very much for your response.  I realize this is just something I need to finally accept.  It's an emotional roller coaster for me because that's just the way I am.  Someone else maybe would not even flinch at it.  And I realize that there are just a lot of unknowns about HPV, and each individual's situation is unique.  You've made me feel better about my situation, it's far from being the worst thing that can happen to a person.  Thank you for suggesting ASHA and I will continue to read this forum.

Best Regards.
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
Seattle, WA
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